How should you describe a product that doesn’t really know any ‘sound’ or signature? Anyone who connects the Sonnet Morpheus will notice that it plays so naturally that it immediately gives the feeling that it just has to be like that. There is no noticeable coloring, magnification or reduction of the stereo image or other audible influence. Not a dash of cream, extra pepper, salt or perhaps a ‘sour bomb’.
Now the Pavane and even more the Adagio are already very beautiful, good performing products with little sound colour of their own. Perhaps the only signature we can name is the R2R (Resistor to Resistor / ladderdac) ‘NOS’ feeling. We like it very much. NOS – Non Over Samping – gives a naturalness in the middle area that we have come to appreciate very much. Voices just sound very pure. Oversampling dacs often sound slightly different in that spectrum. But back to the subject.
So the Adagio and Pavane are already good products with – in our opinion – a nice sound. However, we noticed that there is room for improvement in the area of stereo imaging in the year 2020. There are dacs in a lower price range that simply perform better in stereo imaging. Is it a reason to trade it in right away? No. Definitely not. So read on.
Luckily Ruijtenberg doesn’t like to sit down and relax. And we’ve heard that the Morpheus had improved a lot in terms of imaging (compared to the Adagio). And yes: immediately after the first notes of Anette Askvik we hear that the image is room filling and crawls around us nicely. The voice is very powerful right in front of us. Beautiful in proportion. Every breath and sigh can be heard. Very impressive.
Now, we’d like to put some details here. For the test we connected a nicer power cord to the Adagio. And that was very audible. Especially in – yes – imaging. So it really pays off to pay attention to that. Because with a NRG-1000 of Audioquest, the picture is much nicer detached from the speakers. But when we went to equip the Morpheus with a NRG1000… yeah. The Morpheus will again take a big lead. In short: the Sonnet Morpheus is better than the Adagio and Pavane when it comes to stereo imaging. Nice work.
What we notice with the rest of the test tracks – Vultures, John Mayer, several tracks from Massive Attack, Muse and Steven Wilson, Amy Winehouse (MQA)… etc – is that there is an excellent balance in resolution, depth, timbre and speed. The Morpheus is incredibly fast and really shows more than the Adagio, but it doesn’t disturb. This is partly because the converter just doesn’t go for spectacle. It doesn’t splash, it doesn’t surprise and it doesn’t try to make things prettier than they are. It just plays music. What goes in, comes out.
Now that makes a lot of sense. But we’ve noticed that this isn’t normal at all. Each dac in our dac test has its own signature. One more than the other. We clearly notice that one producer is more in favour of neutrality than another. And every manufacturer has their own vision on how to achieve this neutral representation. We think that Cees Ruijtenberg applies an interesting method to his own NOS dac modules.
Finally a short note about MQA. The Morpheus is an NOS-dac. So there is nothing to correct as there is no filter in the dac. We played the MQA track of Amy Winehouse and that sounds excellent. Other MQA recordings sound fine as well. Think of the new James Bond soundtrack. We can’t really make a final statement, since the masters still differ. But the module works.
I read your review of the Sonnet Morpheus and watched your video. One thing you didn’t mention in your review was the bass quantity and quality. How does the bass compare to the adagio and pavane?
Thanks for the nice videos !!!
Thank you for your comment and question. The bass is comparable. Very slight differences. Maybe a bit tighter.